#OmanPride: Mussar-designer extraordinary

More sports Saturday 20/February/2016 21:18 PM
By: Times News Service
#OmanPride: Mussar-designer extraordinary

Muscat: Sameer Al Zadjali is a man with a vision and immense determination, but you probably won’t know that until you hear his very inspiring story.
Sameer is the first Omani ever to have been able to obtain the copyrights to design his own mussars (Omani male headdress), truly the pride of every Omani man. In his late teens, Sameer had practically no clue how to tie a mussar, and it was his brother who normally assisted him in doing that.
When one day his brother refused to help him, Sameer decided that he will be the best at this task one day. His love for mussars slowly grew and then, one day, he decided to experiment with the cloth. He bought 10 pieces of plain cloth and with some assistance from his mother, marked different spots in a tied-up mussar and when they opened it, Sameer was shocked to learn that a lot of the design gets hidden once the mussar is tied. Sameer decided that he couldn’t let this happen any longer.
In the year 2000, Sameer decided to craft his own mussar and was able to do it with the help of his mother and sister. However, it took him six long years to reach there. Most of that time was spent reading and researching about the cloth, its crafting process and just reading the history of the fabric.
By the end of it all, Sameer was so well informed that he even came to know the first person who had brought the concept of mussars to Oman. However his thirst wasn’t quenched, and his quest for knowledge took him to Kashmir, the home of pashmina.
After designing his first mussar, Sameer, much to the astonishment of friends and colleagues, went to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to get a copyright for it, which he luckily got.
Sameer already had a good rapport with certain people in India, as he was educated in Pune. He visited Kashmir, the home of ‘pashmina’ (the rich material used to make mussars) and went to the place where craftsmen showed him the process of making mussars.
“I saw artisans and weavers in Kashmir who work in severe conditions and are still able to produce some exquisite works. There I met people who have been into this business for generations and it was so inspiring to sit with them, talk to them and watch them work.”
Sameer was delighted, and at the same time, surprised to know that so much effort goes into making a single mussar which sometimes can take up to two or three months. He then started appreciating the art and his mussars much more.
“I was very surprised to know that the people who make mussars don’t even know how it is worn and what does it actually look like when it is worn by someone. I then tied it in front of them, and they appreciated that and were also happy to know what their efforts look like in their final stage.”
According to Sameer, his mussars are unique, and every piece comes with a how-to-tie description. He plans to bring the craft of mussars to Oman, as mussars are truly an object of pride for the country. “I have been paying monthly visits to Kashmir to give the craftsmen my pieces, materials, designs and colour codes. It is not easy and I have had to work very hard. Whenever I go to the artisans, I tell them that I don’t just want a piece of headdress but a Taj Mahal.”
According to Sameer, every year Oman imports five to seven million mussars, and he wants Oman to start producing them. Sameer’s mussars range from OMR50 to OMR1,500 and he has some very prominent customers buying his pieces. However, he also tries to cater to those with smaller budgets by lowering the cost at times just to make his art easily accessible to Omanis.
Now 36, Sameer has his own mussar shop in Qurum called ‘Paradise Muscat’ and plans to start his own factory very soon, so that he can manufacture mussars in Oman and ensure that Omanis learn the art themselves.
“I want to open my own factory here and have a small museum which explains the crafting process from a to z, and I want students to come and be inspired so that they can learn and know about this pride of Oman in the Sultanate itself.